Moment Of Clarity

PARENTING: What’s Acceptable Punishment?

In an alleged staged video gone viral, a dad is shown destroying his adult son’s video collection. The father claims that although his son has gone to college, he does not work, has not been looking for a job, and has a growing number of bills. Instead, his son plays video games with the hopes of getting paid to do it.

While some people criticize the parenting of the father, many condone his response and support him. The bigger question becomes: Is destroying children’s personal property an acceptable form of punishment?

The short answer is: No. The rationale is similar to why I don’t think parents should spank their children when they’re angry – it demonstrates lack of self-control.

There are several lessons a child learns when you intentionally destroy an item that belongs to them. For example:

1)  If I don’t do what I am supposed to do, I could lose something I enjoy/love.
2)  It’s OK to take things that belong to others to prove a point.
3)  If I have more power than someone else, it’s OK if I am aggressive if I am helping him or her learn something.
4)  Nothing really belongs to me.
5)  If I really enjoy or treasure something, I need to hide it so it doesn’t get taken from me.
6)  There is no point in working hard to to get or become good at something you like because it can be taken from you.
7)  If I don’t look forward to having or doing something, then no one can hurt me by taking it away.


When children, grown or growing, have a difficult time taking responsibility for their actions and need to develop structure and perspective, there are some things that can be done to get them going:

1)  Clearly state problematic behaviors, expectations, and consequences. Before you enact any punishment, you must talk with your child about the issues you have with their behavior, what you prefer to happen instead, and the consequences for ongoing unacceptable behavior. This requires parents to be thoughtful and intentional in how they parent before they punish their child.

2)  Take away privileges for a set amount of time. Unless the item(s) are a threat to themselves or others (e.g. guns or alcohol), opt to take it away as opposed to destroying it. Taking away a privilege is different from destroying it because they can have the item returned or re-engage in the activity.

3)  Donate items to charities. If the items are really a distraction to the point that it is posing a serious problem, invite the child to help determine the best way to remove the distraction. Donating items to appropriate charities can help the child let go and move on to healthier habits.

4)  Replace items over time as behaviors improve. Earning privileges and material goods helps people find balance and perspective. Rewards serve as great motivators while teach discipline and gratitude as well.

I hope you find this helpful and would love to know what you think. Take our poll and share your comments below. With love and light … pleasant journeys!

(Photo via Shutterstock

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90 percent success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!